Monday, August 23, 2010
Before I start, I shall point out straightaway that I commented on this exact same topic this time last year. No doubt I shall comment on it again. Last time the comment was a footnote in a longer posting but now I’ve decided on a larger canvas. I shall probably repeat myself in writing this but it needs saying.
Why is it that people do not know how to behave in the theatre?
I don’t mean whether to stand up for the right parts of Mamma Mia! but in simple courtesy both to the performers and to the other people in the audience. People can be so rude.
David and I have just come back from the final week of this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton. The shows were good and every one we saw was an excellent production. I’m not going to review them here. Other people have, no doubt, made a much better job elsewhere.
There were, however, a few flies in the ointment. The audience seemed to have no concept of where they were. Most seemed to think that they were at home watching television and behaved accordingly. I am surprised that people hadn’t turned up in their dressing-gowns with a mug of cocoa.
I thought it might help if I laid down a few guidelines …
- If you’re in the front row of the circle, you will have probably been sold a ticket with the words “restricted view” on it. This means that there is a wall and a railing and if you are below a certain height you should really aim to get other seats. It doesn’t mean that you have to lean forward on the nice comfy railing and block the views of the people behind you with your head. Justifying it with “we’re short” really doesn’t wash. You shouldn’t be sitting there.
- If you find someone in your seat ask politely to check their tickets. Don’t assume they’ve sat in the wrong seats. It might be you. Don’t imply that they weren’t able to read the numbers properly or that knowing the difference between A and AA is “confusing”. You just come across to the people sitting behind you as a patronising cow.
- If you must eat sweets during the performance, please make sure they don’t have wrappers. It’s amazing how far the sound of rustling carries. We could clearly hear the sound of some woman unwrapping a couple of sweets with exquisite slowness four rows in front of us. Doing it slowly doesn’t help. Just don’t do it.
- The same goes for water bottles. By all means drink water but don’t sit there squeezing the bottle and making that lovely clicky noise.
- And while we’re on the subject of water – buy a bottle either before the show starts or comfortably during the interval. Waiting until 19 minutes and 55 seconds into a 20 minute interval before deciding you are thirsty is verging on stupidity.
- A little tip – the music and the singing are not there to cover up the sound of you having a chat with your neighbour. A word here or there is just about OK but having a prolonged discussion is just not on and we can still hear you whispering.
- If you suddenly realise that there isn’t a full orchestra when you were expecting one, please don’t bellow “there’s no orchestra!” at the top of your voice. The actors on the stage probably already know.
- Bring children – yes. Bring children that are too young to appreciate what they are seeing or to not chatter at the tops of their voices – no. Bring one or two children – yes. Bring every child in your extended family – no. Iolanthe may be about fairies but it isn’t intended for children.
Going to the theatre, a concert or even the cinema is not the same as sitting at home watching television. There are other people there. The other people have paid good money to see and hear the production, whether it is a play, an opera, a dance or a film. They haven’t paid to see the back of your head or the lovely cardigan that Aunty Mabel knitted or to listen to your whispering.
I don't think the front row circle seats do say restricted view (Unless they are at the sides)infact my understanding is that they have a maximum, rather than a minimum height reccomendation due to the lack of decent legroom. However I do agree that it's annoying when people lean forward in them!
As someone who did have a cough while at the festival I hope I didn't annoy anyone with my cough and tried really hard to just cough in the applause (as I do get irritated by people coughing too) but I was't going to waste my ticket because of a slight tickle!
Also, I doubt he is reading this, but I would anyway like to thank the gentleman who was sitting next to me during Oxford Uni's 'Ida' who kindly gave me a few throat sweets to help with my cough and was so polite about it. I promise I only unwrapped them during the applause!